As you may know from our previous articles, specific kinds of textured breast implants have been banned and recalled in countries due to their link to a cancer called Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). France, Canada, and Australia have banned Allergan’s textured breast implants and the U.S. FDA has recalled them. Allergan has withdrawn their textured implants from the market worldwide.
Background of BIA-ALCL Statistics
BIA-ALCL began as a rare form of cancer. But, in April 2019, we brought to attention the new statistics for BIA-ALCL diagnoses in our article, “Textured Breast Implants Bans on the Rise“. As of February, the total number of cases had grown from 359 to 457 in the U.S. and about 700 worldwide, with the number of deaths rising from 9 to 16.
In Canada, their governmental health agency called Health Canada published an alert in February 2019 stating that they had received reports of 22 confirmed cases and 22 suspected cases. Whereas the initial review in 2017 showed only 5 confirmed cases in the last 10 years. The recent CBC News article, “‘An emerging malignancy’: Cancer linked to these breast implants no longer ‘rare’, data suggests,” states the most recent update,
As of Dec. 20, 2019, Health Canada said it had received 106 reports describing ‘breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL),’ including both confirmed and suspected cases. Of those, 52 were received since May 28, 2019.
With the information that has become available on the link between these breast implants and BIA-ALCL, more women are presenting concerns to their doctors and more diagnoses are being made. Health professionals around the world are analyzing this information and believe that official statistics do not accurately represent the growing number of cases.
UK Regulators Still Not Banning
Though the evidence on the dangers of this link is high, regulators in the UK have not made any moves to ban the implants. According to the recent article from The Guardian, “Anger over UK’s failure to ban breast implants linked to 61 cancer cases,” the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has claimed the disease to be very rare. The article quotes an MHRA spokesperson who said,
Based on our analysis of the latest scientific evidence and expert clinical input, our advice remains unchanged: there is no new evidence of an increased risk to patients and there is no need for people with breast implants to have them removed in the absence of any symptoms.
This is alarming for women in the UK who have the implants due to the fact that at least 61 women have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL. As a result, a large portion of the women have hired lawyers who are bringing legal action against manufacturers, clinics, and doctors.
The January 2019 The Guardian article also shares the opinion from a lawyer named Sarah Moore who works for Leigh Day law firm in the UK. She disagrees with the MHRA’s statement about the diseases being rare, stating,
I think there has been misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis, and I think we have to bear in mind that in the last 18 months there have been 17 more reported cases of ALCL.
Due to the increased awareness, she believes that diagnoses will increase as well. The MHRA is apparently working to raise said awareness, but they still view it is a rare disease and are not banning the implants. Will they reevaluate their perspective like the FDA did?
As always, we will continue to monitor the worlwide issues surrounding breast implants and BIA-ALCL, and provide you with any new or relevant information.
Written by: Laura Beasley, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A.